Montee Ball is already a name familiar to Wisconsin sports fans as a player who's helped the in-state Badgers win consecutive Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl berths the past two years.
Equally impressive as what the Badgers have been able to accomplish as a team is what Ball has been able to do as an individual.
In 2011, Ball tied the NCAA record held by Barry Sanders for the most touchdowns in a single season with 39 (33 rushing, six receiving). Ball also led the FBS in rushing yards last season with 1,923 yards, good for an average of 6.26 yards per carry.
For all those accomplishments, Ball was named a Heisman Trophy finalist and finished fourth in the voting.
Also notable was Ball's extreme weight loss, in which he reportedly shed more than 25 pounds (from 231 to 205) between the end of the 2010 season and the beginning of the 2011 season. Following the 2012 Rose Bowl, Ball said he'd like to be around 215 pounds this season, which will be a challenge to add weight yet maintain speed.
Chris Steuber, director of player personnel for the Georgia Force of the Arena Football League and NFL Draft analyst, said in an interview with Bleacher Report that he currently thinks Ball is more of a second-round prospect, but acknowledges there's a long time to change his mind as the upcoming season has to play itself out.
"He's a powerful runner," Steuber said. "He's a guy that can be probably more of a north-south guy at this point. He has a little bit of questionable lateral movement, but again, he's explosive player. He hits the hole very hard. He's just a tough-nosed player. I really like him as a running back."
As important as the passing game is in Green Bay, Ball's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is also valuable, as the Badgers back has 49 career receptions for 526 yards.
With Ryan Grant unsigned, the Packers would appear to be thin at the running back position. They'll rely upon James Starks, along with Alex Green and Brandon Saine, but every one of them still has a lot to prove at the NFL level.